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May 18, 2012 | Dispatches from Iwate: Recap

Read the transcribed version of my journal entries while I was at the base.

As I sit at home, weary after a long overnight bus ride, I’m given a bit of a chance to reflect on what has been a transformative experience among those I hope to be able to call family up at Caritas Otsuchi. 10 days ago I left on a bus for a 600km ride to Iwate Prefecture, one of several prefectures on the eastern seaboard that had been ravaged by the tsunami last year. I didn’t know what to expect, nor did I know what kind of volunteering I would do, but it turned out to be the most humbling experience in a long while. I spent 8 days in the company of selfless folks who had spent their time and money restoring a business hotel into a structure that could accomodate up to 40 people at a time, in the company of Father Furuki, who held mass every morning, in the company of strong-willed Iwate folks who refused to crumble in the face of such a daunting task as to rebuild a life swept away in an instant, and in the company of volunteers who made their way from places as far south as Miyazaki.

As I went along in my work I had to remind myself that it was for those folks that I was there, and that they, more than ever, need reminder that people have not forgotten about them- it was painful for me to realize that I knew I had a place I could go back to, that I had a job that I could look toward, that I had not lost in any magnitude as close as to those I was invited to be around. I was reminded that not for an instant were they willing to let others be their only source of support. I was reminded that to be able to “listen with one’s heart” is amazingly difficult to do.

Otsuchi Caritas base, which is currently inside what used to be Kotobuki Business Hotel

There is a lot of encouragement I get from knowing that the base will remain at the hands of those fine folks for a length of unknown time (but at least a year or two). Primarily this is because it gives me reasons to return, to help in anyway I can from afar, and to encourage others to participate. Words written here are only a partial reminder to myself, should I ever become forgetful, of the vivid and powerful experience that is to be among others whose motivations are simply to be helpful, to be encouraging, and to be present.

Goodbyes are never my forte – they seem artificial, compressed moments of anxiety of wanting to leave a positive impression on others. That’s why I console whatever missteps I make by ensuring others that I will make every effort to be back, and someday soon.

This entry was posted on Friday, May 18th, 2012 at 6:03 am, EST under the category of Uncategorized. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.